Contemporary Practice Management can keep Independent Physicians from Drowning
Originally Published by Illumination on Medium
Modern Healthcare is a swamp, as it is stuffed with political mud and legislative murk. To the irony, almost every penny spent on healthcare merely converges on emptying vast amounts of healthcare dollars into corporate pockets. We are besieged thru, the amendment string and executive orders one next to another while ordering mandates over one more.
All said and done with end up remains the elusive charming proposals to solve healthcare problems that drown physicians and patients alike while benefiting the few aristocrats. While at it, patients must still be cared for, and to accomplish such, physicians must survive, particularly those with solo independent practices. Because- Healthcare is personal and too sacred for a bureaucratic centralized corporate medicine to petition effectually. But while physicians are struggling to deliver what they know best for their patients, they must yet ensure compliance, be efficient, and, most of all, thrive.
With increasing legislative mandates that are the byproducts of a vicious circle amid administrative shortcuts and consecutive failures, keeping up with the bureaucratic provisions is becoming harder by the day. An Independent physician’s era, as showing up to practice and getting paid for the services they render, is a subject of the past. With the evolution of the merit-based reimbursement model and its impending global expansion, the challenge of keeping pâté above the water is the metaphorical portrayal of what independent doctors are experiencing.
For large entities, legislation and mandates partake a matter of strategic significance, as they strategically benefit from the chaos and ambiguity of the healthcare swamp. The majority of statutory healthcare ordinances, if not all, have been the primary contributor to the existing confusion. After all, it is factual that those who create chaos also know how to loophole it!
But Independent physicians can’t dodge the chaos and burden of corporate medicine, yet realistically cannot shift it their way overnight. So, first, they must adapt; then learn only after they can reform and take back what belongs to them.
Physicians, particularly those with independent medical practices, must engage in modern management if they desire to be competitive. Although it may sound over-optimistic for a solo physician to accept that they can indeed compete with the big guys, nonetheless considering the progress we as humans have made for science, technology, and problem-solving capacity, the latter is very much the reality.
First, we need to put out double standards and hypocrisy in Healthcare.
Health has become a political issue, but politics has been flawed for over a century, and the worst is yet to come. Some petition healthcare as a right, yet others declare it a privilege. They are speaking. Indeed, health is a right, as every individual needs and wishes to stay healthy. Nonetheless, keep on healthy is a mission, making Healthcare a tool to accomplish such a task. Patient autonomy has been destabilized, as they have been made to believe that Healthcare is an intricate issue, and there is no simple solution for its many problems.
Citizens have been accustomed to hold most Healthcare should be paid for by some other than the patient self, spawned by the government entitlement programs comparable to Medicare and Medicaid in the U.S.
We need a system where value is determined by individual patients directing their interests. That is in contrast to bureaucracy, where prices and values are customary by political and business objects that have absolute control over costs and the quality of medical services.
The healthcare system must ensure empowering and appealing patients in their healthcare decisions.
One of the foremost discords between high-performing medical clinic operations and practices that are falling overdue is around the technology they espouse.
High-performing stand-alone clinics are more likely to grip new information technology and care-management tools. Those that are under-performing are more likely to view these new technologies as just another government-mandated jumble. The problem doesn’t end in technology, as most independent physicians, particularly those practicing solo, feel policies, procedures, and protocols only belong to the large organizations. Nevertheless, we must start conceding that government administrations hold entities, irrespective of their scope of practice and size, to the same standards. Such naivety in the medical community is merely due to the highly sophisticated nature of the mainstream physician attitude.
Although as trivial as it may sound, the healthcare system is neither selective nor forgiving when it comes to patient care. An independent physician may choose not to pursue reforming their practice. However, once red-flagged, it will be hard to reverse the upheaval.
Patient Satisfaction and Physicians alike parallel that of High-Quality Performance.
Based on a survey by Care Cloud released in 2017, the practice performance Index revealed that high-performing medical practices had more contented doctors and patients. The study also clinched; the best performing practices were more likely to add new locations and staff. To the same extent, they were even more predisposed to implement new technologies like the Telehealth system.
Medical practices behindhand are less likely to improve or to score very high in patient satisfaction and physician satisfaction—instead, many reprimand software systems for bogging down their operations with an additional layer of intricacy.
Although there is validity to physician frustration regarding the available solutions, it is somewhat untimely to align poorly validated technology to the genuine answers that can potentially make independent physicians competitive and viable.
We are experiencing the upshot of products, technologies, and solutions that perpetually have fallen short of addressing the medical community’s wishes.
Despite what is being disseminated, technology alone will not help physicians stay ahead of their game, especially against big competitors like hospitals and managed care systems.
21st-century Healthcare Demands Modern Thinking
The fact stands, many practices that are not functioning at their topmost have been embracing technology-only solutions, the wrong sort of explanations. The software offered as a remedy to independent physician survival makes it more comfortable to run a medical practice. Still, software alone can’t do the work efficiently enough to the patient and physician expectations.
Large organizations have the resources to espouse new technologies and the workforce to become robust. More extensive health networks have crews of people in place, including administrators and consultants who can implement novel technologies and, at that point, warrant improving overall operations. They as well characteristically employ proficient personnel who supervise those technologies. Independent medical practices are not in such a position, but they can be.
Most private practices operate with a small group of doctors and the support of office staff that wields scheduling and other clerical work. Independent practices do not routinely have teams that manage compliance and maintain certification. Similarly, they do not often have experts who can roll out new technologies and integrate them into existing workflow.
Frequently, physicians who should be treating patients are the ones with the mountains of compliance paperwork and other administrative responsibilities.
Independent physicians are far more likely to fall in arrears, as they have previously struggled to keep up with ever-increasing clerical mandates. They are financially restrained and are more likely to shy away from modern care-management technologies and solutions.
Smaller practices need to be on equal footing with more extensive health networks when rolling out new technologies, training people, flourishing, and creating jobs.
Merging human know-how with the software will lay independent physicians on an even foothold. Systems that realize this are what independent doctors should be asking for, and when they have this system of practice administration, they will no longer be in the peril of falling behind.
Some of the everyday Practice management Challenges Threatening Independent Medical Practices in 2020
Fortunately, despite all the turmoil, independent healthcare practice is not entirely lifeless. Physicians are still overworked, underpaid, and challenging; however, they are optimistic about the forthcoming.
The Kareo State of the Independent Practice report of 2019 outlines; independent practices continue to be the cornerstone of American Healthcare, but they are continually underrepresented in the public conversation.
Optimism for the future amongst the medical community is well noted. The survey reveals; 60% of independent practices foresee expanding in 2019, 29% expect to remain the same, and only 11% plan to shrink. While independent physicians are noticeably optimistic for growth, they continue to assess their alternative business standards to see the shifting requirements of the healthcare market, including consolidations, acquisitions, and partnerships.
Kareo saw it interesting how many independent practices plan to grow in 2019, despite 75% upholding that increasing demands on physician time are impacting the quality of medical care. Additionally, 74% of the surveyed also settle that circumventing physician burnout is an enormous hurdle.
The study found; an extensive relationship between time restraints and burnout. Expectedly, the petition rate is higher among physicians with 11 years or more of practice experience. They were 19% more likely to be concerned with circumventing burnout than physicians in newer practices.
The previous trend for selling independent practices to hospital entities seems to have slowed down significantly. Only 13% of stand-alone clinics counting to join hospitals, while 8% are simultaneously disassociating from large hospital systems, resulting in only a remaining 5% increase of physicians hired by hospitals.
Independent physicians are facing Complex Tasks.
The majority of physicians are observing diminishing payments from 3rd party payers. Managing quality measure incentives or disincentives is becoming more than ever cumbersome for the typical clinician, whereas avoiding burnout and dwelling dedicated to medicine is an ongoing challenge.
Despite physician optimism, independent practices face significant challenges, especially the way they are getting paid. More than 60% of methods are noticing diminishing reimbursements from third-party payors. These deteriorating amounts mean that patients are nowadays more in charge of paying the remaining balance, and 63% of physicians find their patients more and more spending on services directly.
The complexities of the transition to value-based reimbursements and merit considerations present a vital hurdle to independent practices.
New Physicians and Established Physicians don’t Think Alike.
The difference between the new and older generations, particularly concerning medicine, is varied. The attitudes between more modern physicians (less than ten years experience) and more established physicians are interestingly distinct. While all physicians prioritize refining care delivery as the first theme of resourcefulness, more traditional physicians gave it the most priority, i.e., 81% referred to it as imperative. In contrast, only 68% of newer physicians believe that improving care was of utmost importance.
Modern physicians provide a balanced prioritization amid bringing care, overhaul coordination, supervisory compliance, and population health management, with a remarkably higher significance given to population health management. Sixty percent of more novel physicians overvalued population health management, versus only 49% of more traditional physicians.
Top Care Delivery Priorities is about Streamlining Medical Care
Seventy-seven percent of physicians approve that streamlining medical care delivery workflow to allow them to spend abrupter time on Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a significant priority, but that does not appear exclusive. There are new predispositions that are necessary to be optimized. These include security and compliance, diagnostics improvement; Prescription management; Handling labs and testing; Improving treatment adherence, Point-of-care system. Independent practices today have many priorities. The administrative burdens that physicians will need to commence without uncertainty will impact patient care, short of the precise processes and procedures.
Focus on Patient Engagement is Important
As more independent physicians prioritize the value of quality measures in their practices, their need for enhanced patient engagement to achieve quality outcomes also grows. Indeed, 62% of respondents admit that patient non-adherence to self-care is disturbing their quality measurement system; they are also slower to grasp the adoption of technology processes that might improve patient engagement.
In contrast, physicians’ patients were far more accepting of the purpose of technology in Healthcare, with 79% of patients stating they were more likely to select a physician that allows them to conduct healthcare interactions online or on a mobile device.
The Right kind of Solution is an Inevitability to Establish a Workflow.
Independent practices place very high precedence on acquiring patients and keeping them returning. Despite the statistic, patient referrals are the number one scheme of obtaining new patients for every clinical practice. For that reason, extra modern physicians placed greater emphasis on online marketing, including being found online (66%), patient reviews (63%), and surveys (60%). However, this response rate represents a relatively low rank given to online discoverability by independent practices, which is divergent to their goal of growing their practice. In general, independent practices are lagging in the adoption of patient engagement workflows.
Medical practices require to adapt to the correct type of technology to establish a custom workflow, even though it may not be enough. The medical community has mixed opinions about the Tech industry. Despite 75% growing time demands of quality measures and EHR systems negatively affecting care delivery, they also understand that increasing healthcare overhead may be solved by an effective and efficient technology strategy and hands-on aid. Sixty-nine percent of independent practices affirm that integrated technology solutions are needed to improve the efficiency and profitability of their practices.
Despite frustrations, independent physician practices still focus on technology as the key to eliminating most, if not all, of their current challenges.
When asked what technology allows their healthcare delivery workflow, the medical public perceives the EHR as the core software they rely on. Yet, only 64% of respondents are using EHR. Interestingly, 17% of the last planned to obtain EHR technology for the first time in 2019, and about 45% of practices were looking to switch technology vendors.
Independent Medical Practices are more Rewarding to Physicians.
Although physician practices continue to be challenged by the fast-paced changing healthcare realm, they are concomitantly working through their hurdles to go on independently. Studies demonstrate; physicians gain higher satisfaction working alone over being employed through a hospital or health network. Healthcare needs independent practice still more, as physician-owned practices attend 990.8 million visits, or 3.1 visits per person in the U.S. each year, Vs. hospital outpatient visits number 125.7 million visits per year. Additionally, independent physicians correspondingly have lowered per-beneficiary costs and a lower 30-day readmission rate compared to hospitals.
Independent medical practices reduce avoidable hospitalizations by 33%; thus, independent healthcare doctors will always prevail to be the keystone of healthcare delivery, not only in the united states but across the ecosphere.
Physician Dissatisfaction and Urgent Need for Change goes beyond the U.S. Borders
Based on a study published by Bain & Company, physicians working within European Healthcare show an overwhelming level of discontent concerning their workflow and responsibilities. The majority of European physicians state they would not advise their hospital to work or receive care. Physicians and surgeons in the European Union have also grown increasingly dissatisfied with pharmaceutical companies, Med-tech manufacturers, and systems handling their data.
According to another study, burnout among general medical practitioners in Germany was significantly higher, particularly amid those in group practices compared to ones practicing solo. In group practices, employed, young, female, and part-time working physicians revealed a higher burnout rate.
Among many challenges, staffing shortages, budget cuts, aging equipment, and inadequate facilities are some of the concerns that most physicians are conveying. Doctors caution all, as they are unprepared to cope with rising healthcare hurdles, including aging populations and the reemergence of infectious diseases. In addition to scarce resources, physicians also indicate a lack of impartial information, which impedes sound clinical decision-making.
A Healthcare survey exposes an industry in desperate need of transformation but missing a clear way onward. Hospitals, pharmaceutical entities, and Med-tech manufacturers continue to rely on an outdated care delivery model that is operating under increasing tension. Few have begun to rethink care delivery and engage physicians in that process radically.
Like their U.S. peers, despite high expectations of reform, healthcare organizations across Europe have been reluctant to embrace new strategies to care delivery. The leap in the adoption of clinical tools such as electronic medical records that physicians anticipated two years ago, for example, has not unfolded. Only some establishments have espoused new management or payment models. Physicians’ application of analytics and clinical tools remained insipid at 45% over two years, and the use of risk-based payment models indeed sank.
European doctors are notably displeased with hospital working environments, including deprived management and organization, the quality of medical care that hospitals deliver, and the quality of physician practice. The front-line has placed physicians on notice that patient care is at risk, and doing nothing is no longer a choice.
Healthcare systems in Germany, France, the U.K., and Italy are among the costliest globally, and costs are steadily growing. Physicians struggle to bring prices down and improve patient outcomes, but they are falling far short of that objective.
Discoveries of the European healthcare system are an urgent call to action to take more bold steps to restructure healthcare delivery. The latter healthcare market traction highlights an opportunity for the physician community to seek new ways to deliver high-quality care at a minimal cost. At the same time, better position them as the industry develops to address 21st century needs.
Three initiatives can aid physicians to begin to converse harmful attitudes and lay the foundations for change. Those include modernization of management structures, physicians’ engagement in reconsidering the care delivery model, and improve skill management.
Healthcare organizations that disregard the vigilant signs will enhance the plausibility of disruptive change. Soaring healthcare costs and eroding quality of care have already encouraged nontraditional companies such as Amazon to enter the field with disruptive new care-delivery models.
The Modern Medical Practice must be Sustainable at all Times.
Unless independent medical practices adopt a robust system of operation that can provide them with the necessary tools and support them with what they need to do their job safely, they will risk going under the times of disaster such as coronavirus pandemics. The demands for Healthcare are going to rise exponentially during disaster situations such as COVID-19, but then, there could be fewer and scarcer healthcare professionals available to share the responsibility. Then the emergency department will likely be overwhelmed, making choices between the world and the hospital but disconnected from both.
The tipping point of healthcare stalling could happen with little notice. The loss of physician force, particularly the independent ones, will occur for many reasons, including quarantine, sickness, caring for their own family, or only companionship. But fear of feeling of abandonment will break the camel’s back. Therefore, having associates distributing the burden is a vital predictor for clinicians’ enthusiasm to work, notwithstanding the peril.
It is essential to embrace a modern approach to practice administration and management to achieve a realistic balance on managing the risks and the benefits.
A sustainable medical practice that is competitive, robust, and efficient must adopt modern technology, strategy, and hands-on support.
Properly validated technology is vital for independent physicians yet insufficient to sustain competitiveness in the highly volatile healthcare arena. However, the start of such reform and transition start within the physician attitude.
Once again, Independent clinics need qualified people and properly validated technology to work in tandem. Systems that realize this are some things for which independent doctors should be striving. When doctors have this practice management structure, they will no longer be in the menace of falling behind schedule.